Beer Sneezes: What Do They Mean?

Beer sneezes are not ignition interlocksThere are lots of ways we know when someone has been drinking. Plenty of us get a slight flush to the skin, or a little extra warmth in our hands after just one drink. For others, their drinking may not be as evident until they start stumbling and slurring their speech. But, have you ever seen a person in the throes of a sneezing fit after drinking beer? Do YOU get the “beer sneezes” after tossing back a cold one?

It happens, and it may be more common than you think.

Not that there are any scientific studies on the number of people who are affected, but, if you get the “beer sneezes” after you have had a beer (or, more than one beer), you are not alone. The online discussions on this phenomenon range from catching a closet drinker in the act to a life-threatening allergy situation (please, carry an epi-pen in this case). Some say it is more about the type of beer (too many hops) than a reaction to the alcohol in beer. One thought, however, is that the “beer sneezes” are an indication of when a person is about to slide from an alcohol “buzz” into legal intoxication… making “beer sneezes” a sort of natural ignition interlock test.

Don’t try that at home, folks. Seriously.

An allergy to any sort of food or beverage is a scary thought, and if the “beer sneezes” attack after a few drinks with friends, you may want to have a medical checkup performed to see if there is a problem that can be addressed. You should not, however, rely on your sneezes to indicate whether or not you are safe to drive home, no matter how sure you are of the accuracy of your body’s own “ignition interlock” device. Those “beer sneezes” do not mean you are officially drunk any more than the lack of sneezes mean you are okay to drive.

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